Humans default to faking it.
Cats are incapable of not making it.
It’s up to us what we’ll take from all of this. But Obsidian has taken it upon herself to make us better beasties.
The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report became quite lively the week Obsidian Rosenberg moved to my office.
A litany of medical lunacies too long to repeat had landed Obsidian in the Exam Room, long-term. She made the most of her micro-suite, stockpiling sunshine and commanding laps and love and the floor itself (be it known that tuxedo cats have a unique gift for filibustering, especially when the matter of debate concerns provolone and/or infrastructure).
Life was calm. She worked hard, but happily, to love and lecture the persons and cats in her place. Her days were meaty with meaning.
And then the powers that be made the decision: Obsidian had recovered enough from her ailments to move to a “real” room, but not enough to suffer the stress of a suite (where things have a way of “getting real,” real fast). You might say she’d graduated from the crib to the big-girl bed, but only if it had that special rail to prevent her from tumbling out like a log.
Obsidian was ready to roll.
Like every cat subject to a major move, Obsidian spent the first three days in her new empire within the cautious confines of a crate. She could smell and sense Bartholomew and Cole before having to share life and toilets. She could contemplate the face she wanted to show her new suitemates. She could put together the persona, hand-stitch the mask, engineer the exact Obsidian she would want to be in this particular venue.
But, as is obvious to everyone named Obsidian, there is only one Obsidian. Accept no imitation.
I was present at the hour of Obsidian’s release. Her crate opened to a new world; her feet stepped onto new shores; the world held its breath for a new story.
And the very same Obsidian rushed forth to make the most of absolutely everything.
She flew like a dragonfly. Her Rockette legs raced like thoroughbreds (four very separate horses, with minds of their own). She juggled pom-poms and ideas and embraces from a dazzled Development Director. She claimed the air and land and pens and powers.
She shone. She sprinted.
She showed the entire world — or at least one human dunderhead, one deaf-and-blind ancient marmalade man, and one sooty suitor — what it means to make it after all.
I shan’t speak for Cole and Bart, but she certainly showed me the peak experience of being a living creature.
She was effervescently herself, effortlessly honest, infectiously whole. And I’m telling you: not even Pol Pot or Stalin or the inventor of Crocs could fail to love her.
She was fearlessly, fecklessly, recklessly herself.
She brought precisely her tuxexcellence, her punchy purpose, her Obsidian essence to her brand new world.
The set might change, as it might for us all, but she knew her lines well.
Which means maybe we can sing our real songs across scene changes and vibe changes and all things rattling and strange, too.
It’s either that, or get stuck and stubborn, wrapping our fingers around the doorknob of our old cat suite while life drags us down the hall to new digs. We can lament that our meaning and our muchness lived “back there,” and that there’s no way we can be real or radiant in a new room.
But new rooms and chapters and challenges will come, and we’ll have to choose, over and over, whether we’ll fake it or make it.
Longtime readers may recall that my path to Tabby’s Place was anything but obvious. College led to seminary, which was — if I followed my own neat, tiny, gel-penned playbook — supposed to lead to either church or chaplaincy.
Much as I joke that “God had a different sort of sanctuary in mind,” it was not immediately evident that I would make it as a Development Director (what was that, again?) at a shelter for “cats from hopeless situations” (of which I recognized myself to be one).
Fifteen years later, I can admit that I feared my realness and my muchness were marooned back there, stuck like an abandoned candle in a crumbled cake, vanishing in the rear view mirror.
Would I really make it in this strange new suite?
Would I have to fake it, forsaking everything that made me “me”?
Or are vocation and elation and jubilation independent of location, as sturdy as onyx and as glittering as Obsidian?
Fifteen years later, I keep learning that we can keep making it, no matter what life makes of our plans.
We can keep making it better, and truer, if we take ourselves lightly and fly like a spindly tuxedo cat through every single sky.
We can show up, show ourselves, shine the crooked light that we alone have been given, and find that all the right love and friends and happiness will find us.
From Ringoes to Uttar Pradesh to the uttermost reaches of unpredictability, we can never really lose our station or our vocation.
My vocation, I keep learning, is to keep finding ways to tell people and animals that they are safe, that they cannot lose their belovedness, and that everything is inexplicably going to be OK, cento percento. This ragged little muffin-making work of mine could have taken me many different places, but I landed at the best Place in the world.
More to the point: I landed.
And so — in a manner of speaking — did Obsidian. (I have never met a cat so capable of shunning gravity, but you get the point.)
And so we always will. But no one can do it for us, and we can’t fake it.
So make your move, kittens. Make yourselves known. Make the most of the day and the hour and the place where you’ve been plunked.
We are all waiting for you.
Spectacularly unsurprising postscript: Obsidian has made herself irresistible to an awesome adopter, and she reads this from the comfort of her forever home. She’s made it after all. Love is always worth the wait.